Edward W. Said Days 2019

© Akinbode Akinbiyi

March 14 - 16, 2019

Edward W. Said saw music as a way of embracing the contradictions of everyday life. It was central to his work as a scholar, and he used it as a way to describe the non-musical. For him, counterpoint—the combination of two or more musical voices that are harmonically interdependent, yet melodically and rhythmically independent—was a fundamental metaphor for describing life’s complexities. Join the Barenboim-Said Akademie in its yearly celebration of Said’s life and work: an interwoven exploration of counterpoint through lecture, concert, and discussion, curated by the Dean of the Akademie, Prof. Dr. Mena Mark Hanna.

With the Edward W. Said Days, the Barenboim-Said Akademie and the Pierre Boulez Saal honor the late Palestinian literary scholar who died in 2003 and together with Daniel Barenboim created the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Said, who was also a critic, musician, and political activist, is considered one of the founders of the academic field of postcolonial studies.


On Counterpoint

Students of the Barenboim-Said Akademie from different courses and programs explain the meaning of counterpoint, the way in which Edward W. Said used the concept, and their personal experiences "in counterpoint".


Introduction to the Program

Prof. Dr. Mena Mark Hanna, Dean of the Barenboim-Said Akademie, introduces the 2019 edition of the Edward W. Said Days.

reading recommendation

Reflections on Exile

Inspired by his own experiences, Edward W. Said throughout his life reflected on the challenges of critical thought and humanist action faced by exiles. For an introduction into Said’s world of thought, read the preface to his essay collection Reflections on Exile here.

The Program

Thursday, March 14: Displacement

To live in a place where you can never truly feel like you belong—this painful experience will be the focus of the first day of this year’s Edward W. Said Days. Mahdi Fleifel’s documentary film A World Not Ours examines a family’s permanently provisional existence in a refugee camp. In his lecture, Michael Wood focuses on the many oppositions and moments of harmony in literature and music. Finally, the sacred vocal music performed by the Tallis Scholars during their evening concert is suffused with the fervent hope of finding a secure place in the world.

Friday, March 15: Belonging - A Perpetual Loss 

The second day of the Edward W. Said Days will revolve around the idea of “belonging” as something that can never be possessed but can only ever be lost. In his exhibition, photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi focuses on the quest for harmony in exile. Sa’ed Atshan’s lecture will explore the perpetually conflicted situation of the Palestinian intellectual. In the evening, a concert by the Tallis Scholars and pianist Christoph Grund will make unlikely neighbors out of a famous Renaissance musician and a contemporary Palestinian-Israeli composer.

Saturday, March 16: A Strangeness Within Familiarity

On the final day of the Edward W. Said Days 2019, the focus will be on those disorienting moments when the seemingly familiar suddenly becomes strange and uncertain. In her lecture, writer Adania Shibli examines how the movement between different languages can reveal the inner tensions within the ostensibly adorable. The concluding concert featuring students of the Barenboim-Said Akademie explores the musical phenomenon of counterpoint through works by Bach, Verdi, and Bartók.